4. Batman Returns
Box office gross: $162.8 million
Tim Burton was behind this one, which gives you a sense of where this dark Christmastime tale is heading.
It starts with Paul Reubens and Diane Salinger marking their Christmas newborn's birth by throwing their baby boy into the sewer, descends into a tree-lighting ceremony that ends in an all-out attack on Gotham City and turns penguins into rocket-launching instruments of destruction. Jesse Hassenger of The Onion's A.V. Club goes into greater detail about the film's foray into holiday loneliness, but the only thing that depresses fan is that this film ended the Tim Burton era and was the last time the series would eschew all-out marketeering for filmmaking until Christopher Nolan took control of the franchise.
It was also the first time the series began its habit of shoehorning way too many villains into the mix. Danny DeVito makes a surprisingly apt and incredibly dark Penguin, Michelle Pfeiffer still seems more comfortable in the Catwoman role than either Anne Hathaway or Halle Berry, but Christopher Walken's department store tycoon Max Shreck feels like an unnecessary middleman.
Still, this is about as close to a work of art as the Batman series came and seems like an unlikely criticism of crass commercialism given the film-to-store formula of the movies that followed. Meanwhile, look at The Nightmare Before Christmas that Burton made immediately thereafter to get some sense of how the millionaire bat put him in the holiday spirit.